At Cardinal Montessori Academy, we understand that children are naturally curious and eager to learn, and they tend to gravitate towards doing “big boy” or “big girl” things. The Montessori educational approach is designed not only to teach children basic academic concepts but also to develop practical life skills. In our learning environments, children learn to trust their own abilities, think, and solve problems independently.
Dr. Montessori never patented her method of education, and we believe it’s because she wanted educators to apply it based on the world as it is so that children continue to grow and thrive with the times. For that reason, we proudly integrate the S.T.E.A.M. educational approach with the Montessori method. The STEAM approach to learning uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking. The end results are students who take thoughtful risks, engage in experiential learning, persist in problem-solving, embrace collaboration, and work through the creative process. These are the innovators, educators, leaders, and learners of the 21st century!
Below is an overview of our curriculum based on each program we offer:
Our infant curriculum focuses on gross and fine motor development, sensory exploration, and language development with enrichment activities in the arts. We have separate rooms for our mobile and not-yet-mobile babies. For the Little Cardinals who are not yet on the move, there are a variety of exercises that encourage rolling over, pushing up, sitting up, and crawling. For the older babies, there is ample space for crawling and taking those first steps. Our Nido teachers also work with the infants to track objects with their eyes to include black and white books for the youngest babies.
In terms of language development, we offer baby sign which promotes communication before a child can verbally speak with others. Classical music is played throughout the day and there are sound activities, as well. No childcare experience would be complete without artwork to bring home, so our enrichment activities will provide our families with ample masterpieces for their little one’s keepsake boxes!
Our toddler curriculum works to further refine gross and fine motor skills, as well as language skills; however, in the toddler program, we begin to introduce Spanish as a part of the language curriculum and introduce lessons in practical life, sensorial, culture (social studies and geography), math (counting and number recognition), science, and the arts (art, music, cooking, gardening). This is the age of independence, and our Transition and Pre-Primary teachers’ main objective is to encourage independence.
Children in this classroom are very capable of doing things themselves, and we encourage them to do so. Dramatic play is incorporated into the classwork, and there is a quiet place for students to read as well. The materials are refreshed regularly and routines are established early on to keep the students engaged and focused while at school. Lastly, the students in our toddler program are taught how to properly clean up after themselves. The teachers guide them in clean-up activities but are mindful not to clean up for them.
The children in this program are ready to start a more detailed curriculum. A child’s mind is developing at an enormous rate until around the age of ten; Maria Montessori called this the sensitive period or absorbent mind.
In our Pre-K and Kinder program, children are encouraged to work at their own pace and on a task as many times or for as long as they need to feel satisfied with it. The learning environment is divided into five major sections (Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Math, and Cultural) organized from left to right, top to bottom — just like the way we read and write. Practical Life work teaches life skills, further develop fine motors skills (preparing our students for writing), and promotes longer focus periods.
Sensorial work encourages children to learn by using their senses and activities in this section heighten those senses. It is also the beginning of future geometric tasks. Sensorial materials are very visibly pleasing, as well as pleasing to the touch, and helps students become more aware of their full environment, opening their minds up to more advanced thinking. Practical Life and Sensorial work are the first lessons presented to students in our Children’s House, and they remain open even after the students advance to the Language, Math & Cultural lessons. In the Language section, children work on phonetic sounds, basic parts of speech, and handwriting skills by using visually pleasing concrete materials in preparation for reading and writing. Math is taught from a global view such as what is a number and its place value using concrete materials to a more specific view in the abstract such as facts. In the Cultural section, children learn Zoology (the basic animal groups and parts), Botany (parts of plants as well as environment appreciation), and Geography (the continents and their parts and specific landforms). In addition, there is a Peace curriculum that promotes understanding and respect for self and others and Art appreciation.
Report cards are issued twice during the academic year (in December and May) for infants (ages 6 months and up) and all students who have been enrolled for at least 3 months in our Toddler, Pre-K, and Kindergarten programs.